New Yorkers love to complain about tourists who crowd Times Square, block the bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge, or cross the street without looking. But since New York state went into lockdown at the end of March, all of this has changed.
The Big Apple is famous for its bright lights, crowded streets, iconic architecture, and public art installations—and 65 million people visit because of them each year. But with shelter-in-place orders in effect around the globe, the city has gone eerily silent for the first time since September 11, 2001.
The following are scenes from across New York City during the first week of April, 2020, showing some of the impact of COVID-19 on the city.
The bright lights of Times Square remain lit and giant LED screens still glitter with ads for the millions of tourists who are no longer there. As the most-visited destination in New York City, its normally-crowded streets are now virtually empty, minus a few police officers and building security guards.
As one of the most iconic streets in the city, 42nd Street passes through Times Square, Herald Square, and Grand Central Terminal before ending at the United Nations Headquarters. The stretch, usually saturated with people around the clock, is now strangely devoid of tourists and locals alike.
Grand Central Terminal is the site of countless cinematic embraces and thrilling chases. In real life, it’s a massive transportation hub. Normally, 750,000 people pass through here in a single day. The terminal is now mostly empty, with many entrances, exits, walkways, and staircases blocked off to the public.
New Yorkers are finding inventive ways to express their creativity and bring a bit of joy to their neighbors while socially distancing. Face masks are now appearing on outdoor statues and sculptures, like Wall Street’s Charging Bull, a favorite photo op.
Storefronts may now be shuttered, but before closing, many shop owners and employees decorated window displays with funny and inspiring messages. This window display comes from Fishs Eddy, a Flatiron District emporium of unique and edgy mugs and dishware.
In neighborhoods across the five boroughs, apartment windows are decorated with uplifting quotes, reminding their communities that this will (hopefully) all be over soon. Crayon drawings hang on doors and windows, likely the result of at-home art projects parents are now leading for their suddenly-homeschooled children.
One of the most iconic structures in New York City is the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects lower Manhattan to downtown Brooklyn. Typically teeming with tourists at all hours of the day, the bridge is now virtually empty.
The Williamsburg Bridge normally guides about 7,000 pedestrians from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to the Lower East Side of Manhattan every day. Today, even during the morning and afternoon “rush,” only about a dozen locals make their way across the bridge.
Vessel, New York City’s $150-million public park and “interactive art installation,” typically receives so many visitors each day that tickets must be secured weeks or months in advance. Now, only a few security guards are on duty to keep visitors out of the structure.
Standing six feet apart and donning face masks, New Yorkers patiently wait in line for provisions to tide them over until restaurants reopen.
Though most New Yorkers know that “the real” Little Italy is in the Bronx, Manhattan’s smaller Little Italy is typically crawling with tourists buying “I heart New York” t-shirts and locals looking for a good plate of pasta. While many New York restaurants remain open for takeout and delivery, Little Italy predominately caters to tourists, so most of its eateries are currently closed.